As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Riley, the President of CannaSafe, the first ISO accredited cannabis lab in the world. He holds an Bachelor & M.B.A. from Jacksonville University, where he earned his way through college on a football scholarship. A seasoned entrepreneur who runs a luxury car dealership in FL. He brought his business acumen to the cannabis industry, taking over as President of CannaSafe in late 2016. Under Aaron’s leadership CannaSafe recently won Testing Facility of the year award for CA by dope magazine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent 2 years doing heavy research and DD on the industry before deciding to do the lab. From 2014 I visited 5 legal states, a number of different business from retail to cultivation to manufacturing. Ultimately I decided to focus on testing and had the opportunity to buy in to a business.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funniest story, mistakes aren’t good to advertise. We had this guy come up and say, “ If I send you a pound to get tested how much of it are you going to send me back after testing it?”
Testing only requires several grams…
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Always. A 20,000 sq ft facility in Silicon Valley. We are also investigating acquisition of a couple labs in Nevada.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Bill Scrogins, He is one of my partners. Him and I met and bonded over getting ripped off together by my former neighbor. https://www.buzzfeed.com/mattstroud/latitude-360
He has another successful business and has helped me develop in business and personal life.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Yes we do a lot of fun marketing.
We have 3 departments: Education lab videos, and funny videos(Blunt Justice, etc.)
We are also doing a client appreciation event called the Canny’s.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
- We get paid to be around cannabis and don’t have the risk of getting arrested!
- The growth, its amazing and exciting.
- The people.
- The Black market, the taxes and cost of regulation has been high and has encouraged the black market to continue to thrive.
- Federal Government, still an unknown when and how it will be legalized.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
I wish someone told me how long it would take everyone to follow the rules, it still hasn’t happened.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
- Don’t get high at work
- Learn all the regulations that pertain to what you are doing.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The #safeAF movement. I’d like to help progress consumer safety. My other passion revolves around helping entrepreneurs develop and be successful.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@cannaSafe on instagram
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!